Special Notice:  Due to Gmail becoming problematic with SPAM I have changed my email address and I am working at getting the new address on all of the Varnish pages, though it will take time because I am having to deal with many pages.  My new email address is jmlaboda[at]passcarphotos.info.  Please keep this in mind when trying to contact me.  While the Gmail address will remain in use I can not guarantee that you will receive a quick reply since I am now using the new address.

Welcome to the N-scale Varnish Passenger Car User's Guide, a comprehensive listing of accurately detailed passenger car models and passenger car sides that can be used to model a large number of streamline (and some heavyweight) passenger cars that once were apart of railroading in North America.

This is not a listing of all passenger car models available in N-scale.  What is presented here are what can be considered the Best of the Best, along with some reasonable stand-ins, with a wide variety of manufacturers being represented.  While most of what is listed are car sides intended for use on the American Limited Models core kit or existing models, some ready-to-run models are also included where they are of use.

The passenger car models, sides, and kits, that are listed represent a variety of methods that manufacturers are now using to create accurate, well-detailed models and car sides, which include plastic kits, cast resin kits, etched brass car sides and lazer cut plastic sides, all of which have recently been discussed in a variety of publications such as Model Railroader, Railroad Model Craftsman, N-scale, N-scale Railroading and others.  From these various sources it is now possible to model a wide variety of cars, examples of which can be seen by visiting the N-scale Varnish Files-section at Yahoo! Groups.  (Because of changes at Yahoo! it will be necessary for you to join in order to view the files section.  Unfortunately I have no control over this and I do apologize in advance.)

With this round of updates there is, for the first time, several Shapeways designers included in the listings and I do hope that you will choose to check them out.  With Shapeways now offering Frosted Extreme Detail (FXD) a considerably higher level of quality is possible and because of this the idea of using such prints is now made viable, making some of the more unique cars that are now available possible.  And the list of cars and designers is growing, with more being added to what is now available on a regular basis.  I do hope that, if the designer's prints are not available as FXD prints, that you contact them using the contact link on the various product pages requesting that they offer them in the higher resolution.  Hopefully this will continue to develop as more and more items are developed and the value of the higher resolution prints continue to grow.

As always feedback is welcome and especially so at the present time since there are some major changes and some new additions that are being made.  If you run across any problems or want to let me know how you feel about the changes please use the email link below and let me know your thoughts.  They are always appreciated!!!

I highly recommend the following websites that deal with passenger cars (additional modeling and prototype links can be found on the Varnish Links page):

Fred Klein's N-scale Passenger Car website

And I would like to recommend one more... Spookshow's N-Scale North American Passenger Cars.  As self-described the site is: "This is a quickie one-stop listing of what's available."  A valuable website with honest reviews (just as his locomotive model site is) that is worth getting to know!!!

Looking for specific cars or railroads that are not currently being produced?  Consider contacting N-scale passenger car manufacturers with your request.  Companies that manufacture car sides are especially looking for additional side sets to offer and your choice might just be what they are looking to make.  Just use the links below to visit their website.

While some ready-to-run cars go a long way towards helping some roads to be modeled, there are many roads that had car types that were specific to them, making the modeling of such impossible if it were not for manufacturers such as the ones listed below who produce car sides and kits to aid in modeling them.  Below are a list of manufacturers whose products can be found on this site:

American Limited Models Fox Valley Models Michael's Model RR & Parts
American Model Builders GHQ Models Micro-Trains
Athabasca Scale Models Hell Gate Models Rapido Trains
Boxcar Models Imperial Hobby Productions ScaleN160
Brass Car Sides InterMountain Rwy. Co. Skytop Models
Concor - JMC International Kato USA Susquehanna Car Shops
Des Plaines Hobbies LH - Lazer Horizons Union Station Products
Eastern Seaboard Models Corp. M&R Models Walthers
Fine N-Scale Products MARIUSZJJ Wheels of Time

There are two other manufacturers that I should mention here...

NKP Car Co. no longer manufactures N-scale car sides and have no interest in restarting their production.  It may be possible to find sides for the C&O and NKP on eBay.  They are included in these listings purely as a reference.

Also, corrugated passenger cars formerly produced by Rowa for MRC and Concor based on C&O prototypes, which are no longer produced, are also included in these listings and can sometimes be found at trainshows and on eBay.  These models are reasonable stand-ins and are also listed here purely as a reference.

As far as the various sides go except as noted, the lightweight and some modernized heavyweight car sides listed are intended for application on American Limited Models core kit, which may have to be cut to length, while heavyweight sides such as those produced by M&R Models it is moreso a matter of what a modeler can find, though either the Rivarossi heavyweight or the models by Wheels of Time should be suitable.  For Budd car sides it is recommended that the Concor ATSF Budd leg-rest coach model be used as the core with the original sides modified so that the new sides can be added.  As with all kitbashing projects care should always be used when assembling the sides on appropriate cores, which should result in a quality model that any modeler would be proud of.  The level of difficulty in modeling some models depends on the sides being assembled, with Union Station Products' sides being craftsman level kits that will require the most work.

For those who are looking for ideas on doing some heavyweight cars I recommend these threads on the Trainboard N Forum which deal with the steps involved in adding M&R ATSF sides to a Rivarossi model, which is the same basic method that would be involved with adding them to other cores:  ATSF 70' baggage-express using M&R sides and ATSF Heavyweight RPO from M&R sides.  I also recommend this thread from The Railwire N Forum about ATSF 70' baggage using the new MT 'Erie' car which should prove to be of help as well.

I would also recommend checking out the Pullman roster pages located on this site.  Additional information such as what Pullman cars were sold to railroads for use in maintenance of way service can be found on these pages, with a number of roads employing these cars in this roll after their revenue service ended.  The links below will take you to specific pages...

At the present time there are some sources of decals mentioned though not all roads are covered in this regard.  As new sources are found I will do my best to get this information added in.  If you can help with these sources please email me using the link below.

It is worth noting that many of American Car & Foundries', Budd's and Pullman Standard's lightweight cars had tinted windows and for tips on how to do this I recommend that you visit the on-line article by Bill Denton at the Model:160 website.

If you know of additions or corrections that need to be made, please email me @ jmlaboda[at]gmail.com.

The following is a list of roads that are currently covered.  As more develop I will be adding additional pages as well as providing updates as new cars are released.


Graphics are original art, copyright © 2010 - 2012, by J.M. LaBoda.